Is freelance writing for me?
There is fear in jumping into the unknown.
This is why quitting your corporate job to pursue your passion for writing and focus on becoming a full-time freelance writer may cause doubts, questions, and hesitation. You do not know where and how to start. You are uncertain where things would lead you, if these would help you pay the bills, or if these can sustain your interest and not make regrets at the end.
But physicist and chemist Marie Curie once said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”
Hence, before you give in to the fear, understand the kind of path you will be taking. To do this, like in any battle, you need to equip yourself with knowledge, tools, and reasons that will serve as your motivation in the long run.
WHAT IS A FREELANCE WRITER?
The Writers Bureau, a member of the British Institute for Learning and Development, describes a freelance writer as “a writer who works on a self-employed basis. They can work for just one magazine or, more often, they write for several different publications at a time. ” Due to the expansion of the World Wide Web, the role of a freelance writer has evolved. As businesses are either emerging or extending their operations online, the need for digital creators and communicators has heightened.
According to the US Department of Labor, writers and authors have the following tasks:
- Choose subject matter that interests readers
- Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, and biographies
- Conduct research to obtain factual information and authentic detail
- Write advertising copy for use by newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
- Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
- Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published
Their outputs are usually stories and advertisements, for books, magazines, and online publications. These are some of the types of writers and authors:
Copywriters prepare advertisements to promote the sale of a good or service. They often work with a client to produce advertising themes, jingles, and slogans.
Biographers write a thorough account of a person’s life. They gather information from interviews and research about the person to accurately portray important events in that person’s life.
Generalists write about any topic of interest, unlike writers who usually specialize in a given field.
Novelists write books of fiction, creating characters and plots that may be imaginary or based on real events.
Songwriters compose music and lyrics for songs. They may write and perform their own songs or sell their work to a music publisher. They sometimes work with a client to produce advertising themes, jingles, and slogans, and they may be involved in marketing the product or service.
Playwrights write scripts for theatrical productions. They produce lines for actors to say, stage direction for actors to follow, and ideas for theatrical set design.
Screenwriters create scripts for movies and television. They may produce original stories, characters, and dialogue, or turn a book into a movie or television script. Some may produce content for radio broadcasts and other types of performance.
The US Department of Labor claims that the demand for writers and authors is expected to increase by six percent from 2010 to 2020. This is because online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication amid slower-than-average employment growth.
The agency believes that work opportunities for experienced writers can be found in the public relations departments of corporations and not-for-profit organizations, while other venues are newspaper, magazine, or journal publishers. However, there will be tough competition when it comes to the publishing industry as it is expected to decline.
BUT those writers who are “comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools should have an advantage in finding work.” Writers’ works are likely to get published because of the declining costs of self-publishing, the growing popularity of electronic books, and the increasing number of readers of electronic books.
In an article by Yuwanda Black, head of the SEO writing company New Media Words, at the award-winning site, Business 2 Community, there are six trends to expect in 2014:
1. Vast opportunities in content marketing. Here are the predictions:
- 54% of B2B marketers will increase their spend on content marketing over the next 12 months
- 33% of B2B marketing budgets are now allocated to content marketing
- Companies with fewer than 10 employees allocate 42% of their marketing budget to content marketing
- Companies with over 1,000 employees allocate 24% of their marketing budget to content marketing
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) writers are in demand
Black cited a 2012 Conductor study on the SEO industry which emphasized a “112 percent year-over-year increase in demand for SEO professionals, with salaries almost as high as six-figures ($94,000).”
3. More companies are looking for social media writers
In another post, Black pointed out the findings of The Social Skinny about businesses using social media networks to drive growth. Here are some of them:
- 65% of the world’s top companies have an active Twitter profile
- 90% of marketers use social media channels for business, with 93% of these rating social tools as “important”
- 43% of marketers have noticed an improvement in sales due to social campaigns
- 72% of marketers who have worked in social media for three or more years said that they saw a boost in turnover due to social channels (the longer you’re working in it the better you get)
- 91% of experienced social marketers see improved website traffic due to social media campaigns and 79% are generating more quality leads
- The average time spent by marketers on social media is 1-5hrs per week for those just getting started and 6+ hours per week for those with 3+ years of experience
- The most popular social networking tool for marketing is Facebook – being used by 92%, followed by Twitter (84%), LinkedIn (71%) and blogs (68%)
- LinkedIn is 4X better for B2B lead generation than Facebook and Twitter
- Only 10% of marketers are actively monitoring social media ROI
- Only 22% of businesses have a dedicated social media manager
- 23% of Fortune 500 companies have a public-facing corporate blog
- 58% of Fortune 500 companies have an active corporate Facebook account, 62% have an active corporate Twitter account
- 47% of customers are somewhat likely to purchase from a brand that they follow or like
- 80% of US social network users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook
- 40% of consumers prefer social logins over creating a new/guest account
4. Content marketing strategists
Black explained, “once companies start to fully integrate content marketing into their overall marketing initiatives, there will be a need for it to become more fluid and regimented. Hence, the need for planners – writers who can plan content out days, weeks and months in advance, much like any other marketing initiative.”
The growth of self-publishing has led to the demand for: ghostwriters, ebook editors, ebook cover artists and ebook formatting specialists.
6. Freelance writers hiring other freelance writers
There are freelance writers handling multiple accounts who hire other freelance writers because they already have a lot on their plate.
PERKS OF BEING A FREELANCE WRITER
a) You can pursue your passion for words while earning.
Doing a 9-5 job with routine duties and same old issues might lead to stress and burnout for many people. By becoming a freelance writer, you can pursue your passion for writing while paying your bills at the same time.
Your passion will also help you live through the wins and struggles of this job. It will keep you going even after rejection and give you lasting sense of fulfillment when you’ve sealed a deal.
Do not fret about writing the same materials everyday; as a freelance writer, you have a variety of opportunities in different forms (magazines, blogs, websites, white paper, newsletter, and even e-books) so you would encounter exciting points in your journey every now and then. Also, since you are in charge of your time, you can maneuver your time for writing and time for leisure to keep you away from burnout.
b) You become “portable.”
You can work from anywhere! You have the freedom to choose your work location: your own personal space at home, at the coffee shop, or at the park. This setting allows you to find more inspiration, go to libraries and do research, meet new people, and if you are lucky, get new clients, such a store owner in your town who needs a website for his business. If you are a work-from-home parent, you can attend a school event of your child or send your children to school without worrying if you will miss work because you carry your laptop with you.
c) You turn into an instant entrepreneur.
Being a freelance writer is not only about writing but running a business. And to drum up business, you have to sell yourself. Attracting clients is about giving them a solid reason why they should hire you and not others. This means you need to enhance your services and your credibility, and make your rates competitive.
There are resources online that can guide you in marketing yourself as a writer. You only need to be willing to learn new things and think of this task as your way to share your talent with the world.
d) You meet like-minded people and maybe new friends.
Being a freelance writer may be a solo venture, but you do not have to be lonely all the time. There are writing groups and communities in your area or online that you can join so you can experience social interaction (sharing of ideas and concerns), fun activities, and learning events. If you are lucky, you may have families and friends who are entrepreneurs already. By bonding with them, you can enjoy your social life and receive lots of tips and support that you will surely need in the long run.
e) You can explore your craft more.
When you are a slave to a 9-5 job, you have very little chance to explore your craft more, study again or attend learning events. By becoming a full-time freelancer, with the time in your hands, you can design your own schedule that will accommodate family and social life, work, and education. Upgrading yourself is an investment that will allow your skills to become more profitable and more attractive to your ideal clients.
f) Earn as much as you can.
As a freelance writer, you can choose to handle multiple clients (just make sure the quality of any of your work will not suffer). This means that the more output you deliver, the more earnings you will receive. It is important to note that this set-up will require your discipline, focus, and competence. This face of financial freedom will also motivate you to handle your resources carefully. Aside from health insurance, you must have cushion for days that business is not as thriving as usual.
g) You control the hands of the clock.
The freedom to wake up anytime you want is most likely one of the things you will appreciate in your first few days as a freelance writer. Many experienced freelance writers suggest that one should know the time one is most comfortable writing in order to be productive and efficient.
You are also your own boss. You get to plan your days and year, you set your goals, you design how you will reach those goals, and you get to hire help too if necessary.
h) You get to spend more time with your family and friends
Isn’t this a priceless reward, your most favorite reason?
When you are in charge of your schedule and earning well, you have enough means to have a picnic with your family, treat your friends to a restaurant to celebrate your new job, or do baking or boating with your kids.
This journey, like any job, would not be perfectly smooth. But with the right attitude, knowledge, and tools, you can experience all the perks of being a freelance writer that a 9-5 job can’t give you, from time control to financial growth. In fact, this kind of path is also like writing; it is a process of discovering, celebrating, and learning.